Several British Columbians were among those who received national honours this year from the Governor General of Canada in Ottawa.
Governor General Julie Payette presented the recipients with their awards at a ceremony held on March 26 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa to present 40 Canadians with either a Meritorious Service Decoration (Civil Divison), a Decoration for Bravery, or the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers to recognize excellence, courage or exceptional dedication to service.
Recipients from the Lower Mainland include Burnaby’s Keighobad Esmaeilpour, founder of the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, and Delta’s Amar (Alex) Sangha, founder of the LGBT South Asian organization Sher Vancouver. Both received Meritorious Service Medals.
A Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers was given to Squamish’s Peter Leslie Marshall Houston, who managed the Squamish Triathlon for about 15 years.
Prince George’s Chelsi Sabbe received a Medal of Bravery for saving children from an attempted kidnapping at a park.
Here are the Governor General of Canada's citations of the recipients:
Meritorious Service Medal (Civil Division)
Burnaby, British Columbia
Kei Esmaeilpour founded the Civic Association of Iranian Canadians, a non-profit, non-partisan organization promoting interest in public policy and political issues in Canada within the Iranian community. Through seminars, information sessions and candidate debates at all levels of government, he has fostered greater civic engagement and has inspired many in his community to integrate more meaningfully into their new society.
Amar (Alex) Sangha
Delta, British Columbia
Amar (Alex) Sangha founded Sher Vancouver, a cultural and support group for LGBTQ+ South Asians, their friends and their families. With patience and compassion, he has built bridges in his community and changed social attitudes toward all types of lifestyles. His courage to speak out in the face of prejudice and resistance paved the way for countless others to step forward and began a cross-cultural dialogue on understanding diversity.
Medal of Bravery
Prince George, British Columbia
On August 15, 2017, Chelsi Sabbe intervened during an attempted kidnapping in Prince George, British Columbia. Ms. Sabbe was at a nearby park with her daycare charges when she noticed a man approaching two of the children in the playground. The suspect snatched one of the children and attempted to flee, whereupon Ms. Sabbe tackled him to the ground. Grabbing the child, she ran back to the park, ordering the other children to climb to the top of the play structure. The suspect returned and Ms. Sabbe wrestled him to the ground and put him in a choke hold, while the children ran to a neighbour’s house for safety. The suspect fled but was later apprehended by police.
Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers
Peter Leslie Marshall Hotston
Squamish, British Columbia
For nearly 15 years, Peter Hotston managed the Squamish Triathlon in support of the Bob Macintosh Memorial Scholarship Foundation. With his steady leadership, the Squamish triathlon was recognized by Tri-BC and the broader triathlon community as one of the best triathlons in British Columbia.